Anton Vänskä - Reindeer Jerky
Anton Vänskä - Reindeer Jerky #1
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
I’m is Anton and I’m one of the founders of Renjer. Our project is reindeer jerky (dried reindeer meat), which is an adaptation of the small-scale Lapland produced smoked and dried reindeer meat. We recently started selling and are currently in four stores in Skåne. We got the idea of producing reindeer jerky from our co-founder Tim, he had tasted the original dried reindeer meat in Lapland and decided to bring it to the world.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I just finished my Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation here in Lund, I did Business Administration for my Bachelor’s. Previously I’ve worked at Nordea for three years in customer service and sales, additionally I worked six months in a small online marketing start-up as a content/project manager. I’ve lived almost my whole life abroad, first because my dad was an expat and later because I simply could not stop exploring new places.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
During these three summer months we are aiming to expand our customer base. Firstly, we’ll continue to approach local companies here around Lund/Malmö region. Secondly, we have planned a sales trip to Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian Lapland, which lasts approximately three weeks. Through this we try to capture the interest of local companies in Lapland during the best summer season. Thirdly we open an e-commerce that allows private customers to purchase directly from us.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
This summer will definitely guide us to the right direction with our project. Through customer acquisition and interaction, we gather vital feedback for our future success. We are open for product iteration, which might be necessary if our customers want to have something tweaked. Most crucially we’ll see if there’s enough demand for our product and if it looks like we can pay ourselves a salary through this business one day =)
Anton Vänskä - Reindeer Jerky #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
During the last two and half weeks we drove 6500 km around the Nordic countries and acquired a total of 31 new partners. We would say that our product is now verified by the market. More than ten of our new customers are from Norway, which forced us to rapidly learn about dealing with customs tariffs and export rules. Additionally, for our future B2C and B2B logistics, which are currently handled by our producer, we have contacted potential 3PL partners in Baltics and in the Nordic countries.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
When we started our sales trip, we did not really know what to expect. Our first large customer was Vasa Museum in Stockholm, which is the most visited museum in Sweden. After closing a deal with them, we realized that there is some real potential in our product. It has been most difficult to get customers in Sweden; Finland and Norway have been a lot easier. However, there is not a lot to complain since we sold out in one week and already sold one fourth of our next batch.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
We will focus on doing more sales and taking care of our current customers. Our last sales focused on Lapland and Stockholm, but now it is the time to focus on Copenhagen and Helsinki. We also have a huge list of leads from our sales trip and will need some time to communicate with them. Additionally, we will have to do some after-sales communication with our recently acquired customers to make sure that they are happy and order more in the future.
Anton Vänskä - Reindeer Jerky #3
How did you experience the three months?
In short, it was a great experience. The three months during Leapfrogs permitted us to test if our idea was feasible on the market. We started from three local partners and ended up with around forty. Acquiring these customers required endless hours of work and a lot of travelling, which was all very exciting for us. We found out that the initial pricing we had thought about was correct, also our sales strategies improved and we grew a lot as a team.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
Our sales trip in June-July was definitely the hardest and enjoyable time I’ve had for a long time. It felt like real life army, because we were always on the move and slept in the woods sometimes. We travelled through the whole Lapland for 6500 kilometres in two and half weeks and sold for 5-6 hours every day. After finishing our daily sales, we were exhausted but the clean nature and amazing views of Lapland provided us with energy to continue the trip with full energy to the end.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
We didn’t set too high expectations for the summer, because we didn’t have too much feedback from market in the beginning of it. We had produced thousand boxes of our product and wanted to see if we can sell those. In Lapland, we managed to sell those in two weeks, so that already fulfilled our expectations. We are continuously working on the project and at the moment see no end but only future goals. At the moment we are developing new products and establishing new partnerships.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Don’t be picky with sales, sometimes the partner you could have never imagined to be interested in your product might be your most important customer. We have also had many small failures and it is very important to learn from those as soon as possible as you realise that there is something wrong. It is also important to be really clear with communication with your critical partners; to avoid misunderstandings we would recommend to have all important communication on paper/mail.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
Form a good motivated team that you can trust and who trust the idea. Get a mentor from the industry you are going to work in for insights. Develop a minimum viable product cheaply as soon as possible and ask for feedback from potential customers (sales partners/end-customers) to see if the product is accepted by the “market” and to see what has to be changed. Never underestimate your customers’ opinions. Get finances & scale up. Sell, sell and sell. Talk to your clients and ask for feedback. Iterate and sell.